In the last two months, we've received a string of emails from devoted customers, owners, and employees of various local businesses struggling to survive. These emails all take the same basic form, e.g.: "Dear recipient, such-and-such business is an independently owned local landmark with a significant history. Shop there and save it!!"
It's desperate and valiant and sad, and unfortunately capitalism doesn't usually work that way. The latest message (newly forwarded via a third party from someone named JC Garrett, who calls himself "the gray haired guy with the glasses") involves Down Home Music:
"Hello Down Home music fans," Garrett writes. "As you may have heard, we have been forced to close our 4th street Berkeley store (it was a great store and a most pleasurable place to work and sell music). We'd like to thank all our trusted friends and customers who came by and supported us these last 10 months, but it just wasn't enough to keep our doors open. With small locally owned and operated retail music, books, and video stores dropping like flies in the face of increased internet sales, on-line downloads, rising transportation costs, and an economy that is not favoring small retail, we call on you for your continued support of our El Cerrito store. We have had to lay off many people but hope to recover from debt and continue to supply you with the quality service and product which are hard to get in any cyber world. We have heard from many and believe a lot of people aren't ready to give up on local small business and direct human interaction. Down Home Music has been an institution since 1976. Chris has been producing recordings of non commercial roots music on his Arhoolie label since 1959. We carry a range of cultural products that are hard to find in any location. None the less, we are currently on the endangered species list and will very soon become extinct without your continued customer support. Cody's is gone, DeLauer's is gone, too many to recount here. A grass roots backlash is needed if you care about community. Thanks for listening to (reading) my plea."—Anneli Rufus